Six left, and the one up tonight is a real banana-skin. Rotherham, bang in the middle of the relegation fight, are not going to roll over meekly, and certainly not at home. And Villa, sitting sixth, have little room for error. Which is a bit harsh after six wins in a row. But that’s how it is when you go on a late run.

Saturday showed us how fine the margins can be. Two minutes away from a draw after being under the cosh for virtually the entire second 45, Villa somehow managed to will themselves to three points. We’d still be sitting sixth on goal difference had we dropped the two we gained, but you can’t overstate the importance of every single point with so many sides in striking distance and Villa still having to face Bristol, Leeds, and Norwich.

By now, everyone’s digested the Wednesday game. The poetic justice of Jed Steer and Albert Adomah playing pivotal roles in the victory. The resolve to bend but not break. The wasted dominance of the first half. Coming back to equalize after going behind against the run of play by virtue of McGinn’s brilliantly taken goal, and Green’s fabulous assist.

All in all, a day when three points normally might’ve eluded a side. But as everyone always says, these are the kinds of games good teams find a way to win. And Villa had just enough belief, and quality, to hold on and make something happen. They want to win and don’t give up.

So now we’ve seen Villa rampant and Villa hanging on. The quality seems to be there. The resolve seems to be there. And results around us have largely been favorable.

You’d figure Deano will be doing some rotating with Bristol up Saturday, though he’s obviously been reluctant to break up a winning side and admitted he perhaps should have made changes earlier against the Owls.

I have to say, Jack didn’t look at all himself Saturday, even if he rose to the occasion at the end. I wondered in the comments whether he’s fully fit after not seeing him really challenge the man-marking from Wednesday. Maybe he didn’t need to, but normally we’d see him trying to and winning fouls, if nothing else.

But I don’t know that he’s going to want to sit, and even when not at his best, he does open things up. So it’ll be down to whether there is anything wrong, whether Jack’s hiding it and trying to play through, and what Smith thinks. Whelan? I think everyone could see him getting a break, and Conor could use a run-out.

Adomah vs. Green? Hard to say. Green’s work and pass to create McGinn’s goal was lovely, but I think he’s been a bit of a detriment overall if I’m being honest. He’s not lacking talent or speed. I think he’s just been out for a long time, wants to impress, and is trying too hard to do too much. He’s not quite at the races in terms of decision-making. The only cure is to keep playing him. But I’ve no idea whether Dean will lean more toward Green’s youth and development or Adomah’s relative freshness and how that plays into his Bristol thinking.

Regardless, each of these last six matches ends up being a ‘must-win’. There’s room for error, I’m sure, and I don’t know that anyone would expect us to finish by winning 12 in a row. But I’d rather we win this one and keep the pressure on than lose or draw and give anyone near us any encouragement. Just as long as going out to win it doesn’t jeopardize our chances against Bristol.

So. We’ll see.

Over to you.

Comments 116

  1. Thanks Jc tonight looks even more like a must win after last nights games Bristol beat wba boro win derby drop points all change all change 🙂

  2. tonight has banana skin written all over it. Im more confident of beating city sat.

    Rotherham fighting relegtation, only lost 4 at home and its the crazy championship.

    can we really keep winning! 7 in a row?

    theres going to be plenty of twists yet so I wont loose my s**t if its not great tonight.

  3. Heroes…

    Yeah, we’ll be at some dizzying heights if we do what needs to be done.

    Just occurred to me that it might come down to nothing more than Jack’s desire to get Villa up, and the points to prove that players like Whelan, McGinn, Mings, and Hause might have.

  4. We’ve entered the home straight and now need a sprint to the finish. Saturday is a real 6 pointer but first we have to beat the Millers on their patch. Heads must be right and focused.

    Wind them up Deano, but don’t over wind McGinn. We don’t want him collecting a booking tonight. TCIO.

  5. Team:
    Steer, Elmohamady, Tuanzebe, Mings, Taylor, McGinn, Hourihane, Grealish, Adomah, El Ghazi, Abraham.

    Subs: Sarkic, Jedinak, Whelan, Lansbury, Green, Kodjia, Davis.

    Whelan rested, probably because he will be needed on Saturday

  6. Mark
    I hope we can appeal with Mings’s yellow.
    As JC said, the first was never a yellow, & neither was the arm deliberate.
    All in all , just waiting for their batteries to dip.
    Mind you they do like a kick, Rotherham.

  7. Mark
    At least you don’t have to wait half a minute for the post to get on.
    And I’m on fibre, must be your antiquated system JC

  8. Norwich & SU drew, so at least all we’ve got to worry about on is Saturday with BC.
    I wonder if Mings’s red will be appealed

  9. What a turn round from an abysmal first half when some thought it would be a stroll, and didn’t look as if they were in a game where the opposition were fighting for their lives..
    Disagree JC, Mings knew what he was doing and expected to get away with the hand ball. These days upper arm and shoulder towards the ball is a certain penalty!

    Dean obviously said a few home truths at half time and what a difference. Thought Kodija did well tonight along with Jedinak and Whelan as subs. McGinn playing at super level again, and Jack was a different player second half with a great goal, but Villa could easily have scored another four with a little more edge. Hourihane and Jack once again were awful when it comes to the dead ball situations and it is going to cost us in the end if Dean does not get a grip of it..!!

    However, another great and ugly win..!!

  10. PP,

    It was the first yellow that was ridiculous. He got elbowed in the back of the head, doesn’t even really do anything as they move up the pitch, and he gets a yellow. Saw far worse, and nothing given.

    The peno? Yeah, that was fair.

  11. Agree with that JC. We may challenge the red, but probably will not achieve anything.

    All down to Saturday and getting the three points against Bristol City…… Looking forward to that with Villa Park sold out once more…!!!

  12. IanG

    What I’m seeing is that was ruled out for the Millers, so perhaps he stands a chance Saturday. I know I’d prefer him and Tuanzebe working it out that trotting Jedi out again.

    Every corner, cross and long ball, I was waiting for disaster. Didn’t happen, but Jedi’s not half the CB either of the other three are.

  13. And that’s what a real p*sser poor officiating can be. Deano was upset Mings got a yellow on the penalty when Jack was “scythed down” in the box and no card.

    I was more upset about the first yellow, which, from what I could see—and maybe there was something we didn’t see—was maybe the softest card I’ve ever seen. Now we go from having three decent CBs to one in a huge clash. All because the officiating crew were incompetent.

  14. JC
    I think half the country have gone completely crazy, down to hearing lie after lie, day after day, week after week, year after year.
    It’s indoctrination of course when it’s so intense, which is why people tend to give way & go along with it, thinking they won’t be affected, while at the same time they get sucked into the quicksand of corruption that they found themselves in [if they ever think about it].
    But it explains the changes in the standards below elite professionals [who are also affected, but less so due to not inserting themselves in the process so much], who work harder at their job, & why there is little response to the most outrageous corrupt hammer blows to the basics of moral good health from the mass of people, unless their personal interests are involved.

    Then you’ve got all us observers.
    Me, I’m biased when it comes to the Villa, so am looking forward to Saturday [with Hause I hope].

  15. Well, it was a banana skin and we did slip on it. But we stayed upright. What a totally useless referee last night. I thought we were lucky with our second penalty, we would have been raging had it been against us.

    It was some result given where we stood at half time. Well done Villa. You could just hear the cheering from our promotion rivals when Mings got a red and they scored from the spot. I can only imagine their despair 10 minutes after half time. Brilliant.

    We can’t dwell on this result as we have a massive game on Sat. Job done last night, another job to do this weekend. Win that one and we’ll hopefully have a bit of breathing space.

  16. I cant put into words how huge that win was. playoffs is on!

    credit to deano. this is why we craved him. 1 -0 down at half time. no bother. stick kodjer on and go 432 took the game to them where other managers would of defended and hope to attack.

  17. Well at least a draw won’t be the worst thing on sat not that we will approach it like that. That took the sting out especially as we had looked suddenly vulnerable, to come back so dominantly with 10 men really set the stall out.

  18. Remember last season when we played Bristol? they were flying and we were cr*p. It was the second game into Brucies 7 game winning run and City were 4th, they then tanked and ended up 11th, I remember Johnson was not best pleased. Looking at the teams that day and now theres not many city players left about 4-5, of Villa’s there are five regular starters/bench of todays team on the pitch/ bench plus Thor and Jedinak that don’t feature much.

  19. Mark
    Let’s hope the stall get’s used for something other than hay
    I’m quietly optimistic about getting in the play offs, everything else is not here yet.
    But I do think that Weiman & Baker need a reminder of where they came from.

  20. IsnG – don’t know how true it is but apparently was injured on international duty. The club wanted him to wait until the end of the season, it was his decision to have it now. That won’t have gone down well.

  21. we have been linked with a gk today too.

    Every single manager makes bad signings…its realising you do and not being stubborn keeping playing them. not writing him off yet but good to see if your not perfroming you wont play

  22. Update on Kalinic, should be back after 10 days and Dean Smith said in his presser it was the clubs decision so no probs.

    Was interesting that Smith after being congratulated for the Manager of the month said it should be head coach as thats his title, more signs of change at VP. Also kicked the curse into touch saying we have won 2 this month 🙂

    Looking increasingly like Jedinak at CB, Hause and elphick not ready although Hause will be assessed tommoz.

    Also if we win it will equal our bets ever run and obviously beat it if we get 9.

  23. Big moment in our season tomorrow. VP packed to the rafters should be worth a goal. If we win, we are on our way. BC have been playing 2 games a week for a while now as they play catch up. Could be to our advantage.

    Looks like Jedi and Axel at the back. As PP says, we need to remind Baker and Weimann what a big stage looks like. And remind BC what they lost when Uncle Albert, Tammy and Codger slipped through their fingers.


  24. Blimey, Tommy Smith has passed away.

    For those of us who remember that Liverpool team, he was a less homicidal version of Norman Hunter.

  25. Pug,

    Sarkic has been on the bench for the last three games, and was a very good youngster in the under 23’s last season.

    Just hope Weimann doesn’t remind us what a good player he is in his favourite role, Johnson says it is like having a new signing, when at first, he was supposed to be out for the rest of the season, and is instrumental in their resurgence up the table. Nathan’s head and boot has not been doing badly either, and is now a defensive mid fielder.

    I am sure we can do this with a packed Villa Park and the desire in the team now. Time to head for Villa Park..!!

  26. PP- I can see weimann causing trouble for sure he’s a pain in the arse. Baker might find having McGinn and Grealish running at him a test, hope he doesn’t cripple one of them. Shame they are not still at Villa I liked both players and as we tend to do we sell rather than develop.

    This video is worth watching, shows who’s boss at Villa, none of this clubs to big for him or JT will overshadow Smith rubbish he’s right at home, I want to work for him. Also shows how much Smith wants to win above all else.

    Seen a few comments about training from people who have attended Bodymoor and how they have worked on the mings long ball to the wing and what to do if they go down to 10 men.

    Hope he can sort something out today a win would be massive.

  27. Not the end of the world but not ideal JC, was thinking whether I’d rather have Mings in? its a close call, both out? we will see, it will give us an idea of how much this teams learnt under Smith.

  28. Yeah…We’ll see how they respond. Obviously not much time to prepare, but they had been learning to play without Jack before he came back. Like you say, we’ll see whether that experience is something they can call on.

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